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A flash of red dashed across the countryside, leaping in and out of the wheat fields. His heart raced for fear of an unknown danger that lurked around every corner. Finally, he reached the safety and cover of the woods and darted quickly under a nearby bush. Panting now, he licked his sore pads then groomed down his stray tail fur.
Suddenly, something in the air caused his fur to stand on end. Leaping to his feet, he soared over fallen logs and tree trunks, under large bushes. The soft moss was comforting on his feet as he gathered speed and glided effortlessly over an out of place boulder. Relief flooded inside of him as his den came into view. It was a small hole tucked inside the side of a large hill. Weeds grew tall, hiding the entrance perfectly. Inside, it was cool and dark.
It smelled of raw, rich earth, and had many chambers and tunnels. Since Crimson, the fox, was clever, he dug many exits for emergency escapes. It wasn't long before his fear melted away and he was comforted by the darkness if his abode.
The next day, Crimson creeped out of his den and slunk warily across the forest floor. Cautiously, he sped down to the creek for a cool drink. When he arrived, he lapped it up greedily and afterward, licked the droplets from his muzzle.
"Now, for lunch," he muttered to himself.
Crimson gracefully slipped through the trees and padded quietly to a rabbit that was nibbling on some tender grasses. Unaware of his constantly approaching presence, the hare munched hungrily. Almost there now, Crimson readied himself for a pounce. Within seconds he had the hare in his jaws and was taking it somewhere quiet to eat it.
Suddenly, after he finished eating, frightening howls and yelps of pain overwhelmed his ears. Without a moment's delay, he raced the shrill sounds.
"I will never!" a female's voice rang out.
"Fine, have it your way!" a husky voice snarled.
Pushing his way through the final shrub, his eyes gazed upon a fox and coyote locked in combat. Growls and hisses flooded his ears, warily, Crimson eased his way toward the fight. Then it happened, a yelp of pain poured from the female fox as the coyote gripped her delicate tail in his savage jaws. Something broke inside of him, a need to help his kind, leaping he engaged in the fight. Tearing angrily at the enemy's throat, the coyote pulled back in surprise! With a furious smack, he knocked the other fox into a bush than shook himself
"You're lucky someone backed you up, scrounger, otherwise you'd be dead!" he snarled menacingly before turning tail and fleeing.
Cautiously, Crimson approached the wounded one and began to examine her. Only minor cuts and a small bite in her tail, he concluded. Though groggy and weak, she slowly rose to her feet and licked at her bloody paw.
"You know, I could have taken him on myself," she grumbled.
"Sorry, but I wasn't gonna let him tear your tail off," Crimson soothed. "What's your name anyways?"
"Ember," she muttered as she finished licking her paw.
"Why were you fighting that coyote? Just wondering." Crimson questioned, wondering if she would answer.
"That's none of your concern!" Ember growled. "Thanks, but I got to go."
With that Ember stalked away in the forest.
"Weird," Crimson whispered to himself, but keeping his spirits up he trotted merrily home, when a furious howl hit him.
"What has happened now!" he thought as he leaped out to find answers.
It wasn't long before the howling led to Ember, she was standing in front of a den that was torn to shreds. Rocks piled high everywhere and dirt filled in her tunnels, and blood was smeared on some of the rocks. Whose blood? He wondered, then cautiously, he approached Ember.
Ember faced him, fire lit her eyes.
"Coyotes!" she snarled, before racing around her den. "RUSTY, RUSTY!" she called, but when she got no response, she set to digging.
Soon, even Crimson helped look for the missing Rusty.
After an hour he was alerted by a horrified moan. In a flash, he traced it to Ember and found her peering over a pile of stones.
"Ember, what..." he trailed off as he sat next to her seeing a torn lifeless body of a fox.
"Rusty, oh, my poor Rusty!" Ember crawled in next to him and laid grooming his ruffled fur. "What did they do to you!"
Crimson didn't know what to do but give her time to grieve her loss. So quietly he slipped away and waited sitting on a high rock.